Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I'm not sure about waterboarding. They say it is very effective in extracting information and that although it induces a feeling of impending drowning, it leaves no marks and damages no tissue. Watching Jack Bauer on '24' torture traitors with a tazer does not seem immediately preferable. Yet scores of Westerns and cops and robbers movies have shown the 'good' guys beating a confession or information out of a villain.

It is a difficult dilemma. To stand up for human rights is a fine thing, but who would not have looked the other way if a CIA agent had been able to obtain information by torture that would have prevented 9/11? And if you think you would have stopped the torture consider whether you would have done so if your wife or son was one of the intended victims.

The whole question of what rights criminals retain is a difficult one, and even more so in the case of those detained who are presumed innocent until proved guilty or those detained on the basis of evidence that would not be admissible in a court of law.

Strange as it may seem, the law is there to protect the guilty as well as the innocent. Suppose you run over a child in a Malaysian village and kill him. A colleague of mine who served in the RAF during the Malayan crisis of the 1950s was told that on no account under such circumstances should he stop the car and get out; if he did so he would be torn limb from limb by the villagers, because there was no law there. Such a driver might well deserve punishment, but he might be entirely blameless; mob law admits no such nuances.

I don't know whether anyone has considered as a means of torturing, the injection of a drug that induces severe abdominal colic and diarrhea, but I would imagine it to be an effective means of extracting information. The past weekend was truly terrible. I was screaming with agony as the colic hit me. Had someone offered me an injection that would stop it in return for a confession, I would have given up the crown jewels. I would have confessed to anything from treason to pedophilia if they would only make it stop. I would have offered to have an arm or leg amputated rather than continue in such pain.

The real problem with torture is that you can't rely on the answer.

There is such a remedy for colic; it is called mebeverine, and since I have been taking it I am back to normal making a slow recovery from surgery. I have so far lost 15 pounds and am not yet eating properly, but I no longer have wound pain.

Proverbs 3:11-12 says "My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

I'm not sure what lesson the Lord is teaching me, but perhaps it is not to rely on my own wisdom, and not to be too proud the ask for advice. They say of a doctor who treats himself that he has a fool for a patient and a quack for a physician. My wife, who is non-medical, was urging mebeverine (colofac) on me for some hours before I accepted it and I only did that after I had managed to contact my surgeon's colleague (the surgeon was out of town) and he had agreed with my wife's prescription. What a vicious sin pride is.


Anonymous said...

I am so glad that you are out of pain. As a wife and mother, I can tell you that we know more remedies for stomach pains, headaches, general malaise than any other group on Earth. We are the caregiver's wih a long line of those who went before us and left us with their wisdom. No need to check with a Dr. (unless it is a female Dr.)!
Feel better Terry. We are all rooting for you.

Jenny Lou Park

Anonymous said...

Yes, what a visious sin pride is. We've all been there and looked back quite ashamed. I will keep your frind and colleague, Dr. Lee, in my prayers. Thank you for such wonderful stories about your journey. Keep us posted.

Ann Macklin

Anonymous said...

This unabashed confession certainly absolves you of your sin.
What an ordeal! I'm happy that pain is behind you.

Bob Larkin

Wayne said...

Pain is our friend but how perverse it can seem when it gets carried away.

You have been a most patient and instructive mentor to so many of us in the CLL community that to have this affliction beset you is an ironic cruelty.

I do wish that you had explored in more depth the issue of torture to include the consequences of the acts of torture as an adopted practice under a dictatorship as opposed to acts of torture committed in a democracy where all the people carry the burden of these criminal behaviors. The pain and scarring inflicted upon torture victims may be the least harm done to the culture that perpetrates torturous acts when one considers what the act of torture does to the souls of those who inflict it, particularly when so many of the victims are innocent.

There is an enormous difference between acts of torture committed from a breakdown of individual morality in times of stress and the institutional or societal acceptance of torture as policy.